Beehives, honey and a hobby. Jonathan Brown, fisheries management major at Auburn University, has all three.
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In addition to being a senior, Brown doubles as a beekeeper. He currently has 16 beehives, though during the summer that number can reach about 26. He not only maintains the colonies, but collects the honey as well.
“My dad went to Auburn, and he used to work in the bee labs,” Brown said. “He had a book called ‘The Hive and the Honey Bee.’ I would read it and I just got interested in beekeeping. When I was in high school I always wanted to do it, but never got an opportunity to.”
Then, when Brown came to Auburn, this opportunity presented itself. One of his coworkers wanted to try beekeeping, so the two bought one hive together. However, it was when he joined the Saugahatchee Beekeepers Association that his passion found a place to bloom.
Through the connections he made there, Brown went from managing one hive to 60.
So what does one do to manage a bee colony, especially if he or she is new to the process? According to Brown, the responsibilities change with the seasons. Spring is the busiest, as that is when the most flowers bloom, though bees continue making honey through the warm months.
“Generally, it’s making sure that your queen is still alive and laying eggs, making sure you give the bees space for honey and just taking good care of them,” Brown said.
Brown also sells the honey he collects.
“I’ve sold it to coffee shops, and I pretty much can sell out by word of mouth,” Brown said. “Anyone who would like to buy some is welcome to contact me.”
He sells his honey while his supplies from the summer last. This October, he still has about 15 gallons of honey available, out of the 50 he started with. Each pint is sold for $7, though larger quantities are available as requested.
However, the world’s honey source may be in danger. Due to a mysterious occurrence called a colony collapse disorder, bee populations have been dangerously dwindling.
“The honey bee populations are declining, and we need to help populate them. We need more bee keepers,” Brown said.
Next year he will begin selling beehives as well as the honey. He stresses that if someone wants to get into the process in the Auburn area, plenty of mentors are available to help. A small piece of land, even a one-acre lot, is enough to house a bee colony.
Those who want to purchase honey or to learn more about the process can contact Brown at 573-433-4326.